As soon as you start thinking about how our stuff will move in 30 years time,there are two critical questions.Will as much stuff be travelling us today and will it be going as far?


Over the last three decades, shipping and logistics companies have built vast ports in Far East.They’ve been served by ever bigger ships to handle the millions of containers that move goods from China and Asia to the rest of the world.That process may reverse by 2050.The pay gap between the rich world and China will narrow and robotics will reduce the importance of cheap labor.In response manufacturing is likely to reassure the market in Western Europe.It will possibly move to Eastern Europe.Mexico could become the manufacturing hub for North America.


More physical products might also go the way of CDs or DVDs and be delivered invisibly than fiber-optic cables rather than traveling in boxes.Books are already moving in that direction.These trends could make vast ships less useful and push shipping lines back towards smaller ships that are quicker to load and unload.Energy costs are set to go up.Ships don’t use much energy, compared with trucks, for example, so water transport is likely to remain attractive.And when things can’t go by water, energy-efficient rail is likely to take more of the market share of road transport.


Some container terminals already look futuristic.Autonomous vehicles zip metal boxes to and from the key side. But in the future increased computing power should help trains to load and unload ships still faster.That will make ports smarter and more efficient hubs in a cleaner, more intelligent goods transport system.

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